Saturday, April 07, 2012

Kudos to CALI

The last webinar of Topics in Digital Law Practice (TDLP), CALI's free online course, was presented on Friday. The course was nine weeks long, with each webinar lasting approximately one hour. I have to confess that unless a webinar is compelling, I tend to tune out, figuratively if not literally, before the end. That did not happen during the TDLP presentations. I even went back and listened to some of them again after they were archived on the course website. In short, TDLP was a good investment of my time.

A new topic was covered each week, and there was a different speaker each time, but the course content built on the fact that technology is changing the practice of law, and the change is far reaching and irreversible. It was essentially a crash course in twenty-first-century legal practice. These were the subjects we covered: Virtual Law Practice, Document Automation, Technology in the Courts, Unbundling Legal Services, Free Legal Research (the handouts for this session, available on the course website, include a great legal research flow chart I hope to adopt for use in my Advanced Legal Research class), Contract Standardization, Online Legal Forms in Legal Aid, Unauthorized Practice of Law in the 21st Century, and Social Media and Lawyering.

I have already begun sharing insights gained from the course with my students, and I plan to introduce A2J (an automated system used by individuals who are representing themselves in legal actions) to our clinical faculty. Overall, the course was well executed and thought provoking.

As with any new venture, there are some kinks that need to be worked out if TDLP is offered again. It would have been nice to receive CLE credit for the course, but the sponsors had not arranged for that; had credit been offered, it might have been more of an incentive for participants to do the homework assignments. A lot of participants did not do the homework, which I can understand. Some of the homework assignments amounted to busy work, and some took a lot more time than I had to give them during a semester that has turned out to be very hectic. Another problem with the homework was that it required us in a few instances to submit information to a website that would create documents based on the information we provided. I found it difficult to fake it, and as a non-practicing attorney, I had no way of assessing for myself whether the documents that were generated were of good quality. Finally, it would have been nice to have had some contact with the other people taking the course, perhaps by doing homework assignments collaboratively, but this would probably have been difficult to coordinate.

I found TDLP to be extremely valuable, and I heartily recommend that OOTJ readers listen to the archived presentations.

1 comment:

Betsy McKenzie said...

I absolutely echo this post! The CALI Webinar was excellent. I was delighted at their effort to bring news of the technological changes in legal practice to law schools. Thank you, CALI!